15 Cough and Cold Remedies for Kids to Help Them Feel Better

As a parent, it’s always concerning to see your child uncomfortable with a cough. The unproductive days, the sleepless nights. And that’s just its effect on you! You want to do everything possible to help your child feel better. But how can you know what is a safe cough medicine for kids and what is effective? Fortunately, there are numerous helpful cough remedies for kids you can use to bring back the smiles and giggles.

For children older than three months the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following practical advice and cold symptom remedies for kids, including coughs.1

  1. Rest

Snuggle up on the couch and play your kid’s favorite movie or TV show. Active play can trigger more coughing, so it’s best to provide a calm, comfortable environment where she can engage in quiet activities.

One of the most importance first steps for the healing process is for your child to get plenty of rest so their immune system can function at its highest efficiency.

  1. Fluids

Adequate hydration is important at all times, and even more so when resolving your kid’s cough. Water helps thin the mucus secretions so that the mucus can be efficiently cleared from the lungs. Provide plenty of non-sugary fluids, such as warm tea or broth.

A suction bulb can quickly clear your child’s congested nose allowing him to breathe more freely so he has less need to cough.

  1. Suction Bulb

A suction bulb is an indispensable item for any parent in the early phases of a child’s life. Small children may not know how to blow their noses properly. That buildup of excessive mucus can go down the throat, irritate it, and trigger cough. Still leaving you with the issue: You need to get the mucus out.

  1. Saline Drops

Salt water can help soften the mucus and make it easier for you to remove with a suction bulb. You can make saline drops by dissolving ½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water. For children over 1 year of age, apply two or three drops in each nostril and for those under one year one drop per nostril. This should be repeated at least four time per day.

  1. Petroleum Jelly

Runny noses and lots of nose blowing can cause the skin around your child’s nose to become red and sore. The more sore your child’s nose gets, the less cooperative she may be for suctioning and/or nose-blowing practice. A dab of petroleum jelly can soothe and protect this delicate area and help keep them comfortable and calm.

  1. Cough Drops

For children over the age of five, cough drops like Vicks VapoDrops soothe sore throats temporarily and may reduce coughing from a cold by promoting saliva production and swallowing. You can take a dose every two hours as needed.

  1. Chicken broth

For children one year of age and older, warm, comforting chicken broth is a good home remedy for coughs, colds, and flu. Chicken broth is hydrating, plus it gets a good, warm meal into your little one’s tummy when they’re not feeling their best.

In addition to the above American Academy of Pediatrics recommended remedies, following are several other tried-and-true cough remedies for kids:

  1. Honey

Parents seeking natural options like to turn to honey to help their kids.6 The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you should only give it to your little ones after they’ve celebrated their first birthday.

The CDC recommends that you do not give honey to a child younger than 12 months.3

  1. Humidifier

Dry indoor air can further dry out and irritate your child’s breathing passages, especially so for dry, or non-productive cough in kids. Using a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room while they sleep is very safe and makes breathing more comfortable and coughing less likely.2, 4

  1. Soft Foods

Avoid chips or other hard, crunchy, or scratchy foods that can irritate your little one’s already inflamed throat. Your child may be averse to eating if he has a sore throat along with his cough and swallowing is painful. You may be able to entice him with soft foods, particularly those that don’t require chewing, like yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, and hot cereal.

  1. Popsicles, Frozen berries

Speaking of popsicles, your kids will love an excuse for a cold, delicious snack to help soothe their throat irritated by excessive cough symptoms.

  1. Topical rubs

Inhaled vapors of certain medicated essential oils can soothe airways to relieve your child’s cough. Menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus, found in Vicks VapoRub Children’s, are commonly used for this purpose.

Vicks VapoRub Children’s Topical Cough Suppressant is a chest rub that treats coughs from a cold or flu. Apply VapoRub topically to the chest or neck for cough relief that starts working instantly. VapoRub Children's can be used on all children ages 2 and older to provide safe and effective cough relief so they can sleep. Remember to use as directed and always keep out of your child’s reach.

  1. Chamomile

Calming chamomile is a favorite herbal tea among adults and children alike. Heat up a warm tea with chamomile for your little one to help soothe and calm them when cough symptoms have them feeling under the weather.

  1. Good Nutrition

If your child seems to be getting every cold and flu that’s going around – and then some – it could be that a healthy diet and/or a multivitamin supplement is in order8 to support their nutrition. Try adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, as these foods contain many of the essential nutrients your child’s immune system relies on to do its job fighting illness.

  1. Over-the-Counter Cough Medicines for Kids

Vicks offers over-the-counter cough medicine for kids, with both daytime and nighttime formulas that treat multiple symptoms that accompany a cold or flu. Vicks Children’s Free Of liquid medicines are free of the ingredients you might not want in your kids’ medicines—like artificial dyes and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and alcohol. Always check each label, use as directed and keep medicine out of reach of children.

Vicks Children’s Free of lineup includes:

  • Cough & Congestion (Ages 4+) has Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, to reduce the cough reflex so your child has less urge to cough. Aside from cough, it also relieves chest congestion with Guaifenesin (an expectorant) and stuffy nose with Phenylephrine HCI (a nasal decongestant).

  • Cough & Congestion Night (Ages 6+) helps your kid feel better from common cold symptoms like cough, runny and stuffy nose, and sneezing, and helps them get the rest they need to recover. It relieves cough and runny nose with Diphenhydramine HCI (antihistamine/cough suppressant). It also relieves stuffy nose temporarily with Phenylephrine HCI, a nasal decongestant.

  •  Cold Multi-Symptom helps with common cold and flu symptoms like cough and stuffy nose, plus it includes Acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve minor aches from a cold or flu.